I would meet them in hell and play their horrid games. I’ll come out the victor.

Grabbing a tiered platter of pâté, crusty bread, and pickled vegetables, my mouth watered.

I’m so hungry.

My stomach growled, sending spasms of pain. I’d never gone this long without food, and the lack of sugars and vitamins faded the edges of my vision. My fingers whispered over a piece of roasted potato. Just one little taste…

“Hurry up,” Mr. Hawk ordered.

Shaking my head from the overwhelming need to shove a handful of delicious looking food into my mouth, I turned to face the table. I’d never waitressed before, but I guessed the man in charge would get first choice.

That means passing him again.

Holding tight to the platter, I held my head high, and made my way past Jethro. His mouth twitched as he once again blocked my path. I kept my lips tight together, not looking at the challenge in his eyes.

“Not interested in me anymore, Ms. Weaver?” he purred.

Mr. Hawk looked over his chair and pointed at me, then placed his finger over his lips in the universal ‘hush’ sign. A non-so-subtle reminder that I wasn’t permitted to speak.

When I didn’t respond. Jethro smiled. “I’m impressed.”

He might terrify me, but he needed to know I wouldn’t give up. I had plans for him, and I wouldn’t be so easily cowed. Plus, he had my vomit on his shoes, he shouldn’t be so smug.

I let myself glance into his golden eyes. You don’t scare me.

His capricious demeanour shifted slightly, a silent message glowing in his gaze. Give me time.

He let me pass without another word.

Breathing shallowly, I came to a standstill beside Mr. Hawk. He nodded, choosing a selection from the platter. “Good girl. You may now serve the rest of the table. Left to right, if you please.”

Straightening, I forced myself to truly look at the men before me—the gauntlet of masculinity I had to travel through to reach my destination.

My heart raced; a cold sweat broke out down my spine.

Stay cold. Stay free. And you’ll get through this.

I placed one foot, then another. My heartbeat ratcheted as I came to a stop beside a large man reeking of damp leaves. He had orange hair and a tattoo snaking up his neck.

My vision wobbled; I tottered to the left as a small wave of vertigo reminded me I’d been stable up to this point thanks to a miracle. Orange Tattoo shot out an arm, preventing me from slamming into the table.

He grinned. “Steady, I won’t bite.” He brought me close, smiling so deep a dimple formed. “I’ll lick though.”

Before I could move, his tongue landed on my thigh, licking long and slow like a giant animal.

What?!

I squirmed, almost dropping the tray. His grip was absolute, holding me firm until he’d tasted his full. The rush of vertigo turned to nausea. The sickly scent of my previous sickness didn’t help my stomach from rolling like a shipwreck.

Letting me go, I stumbled and tried to rub away the silvery glisten of wetness from his awful mouth. It only transferred to my naked elbow.

Orange Tattoo beamed, licked his lips, and took a selection of breads and pickles. “Thank you, Ms. Weaver.”

I spun to face Mr. Hawk.

This couldn’t be true. He expected me to let this happen. From everyone?

Mr. Hawk chewed thoughtfully, raising an eyebrow, daring me to speak.

My lips parted—to demand to know what happened. Was that the token of gratitude he spoke of? A lick?

My chest puffed, sending a wash of embarrassment through me. Not only was I naked but I had to permit them licking me!

Mr. Hawk pursed his lips, waiting for me to explode.

He’ll punish you. Don’t ask. Do. Not. Snap.

It took more courage and energy than I had. But I managed to suck in a breath and release the stress swirling in my system. I had too many other things to focus on to care about an unorthodox dinner soirée.

No speaking.

I had to pretend I had no tongue. Otherwise, waitressing would be the least of my problems.

Glancing back at the men, they grinned, knowing I had no choice but to continue.

Jethro’s voice ghosted behind me like a dark cloud. “You’re the main course, Ms. Weaver. Each brother gets a taste—anywhere he chooses. You’d be wise to allow it.”

My heart thundered. Anywhere?

But if it was just a lick—was that so bad? Perhaps this dinner party might not be as awful as I’d feared. A lick I could tolerate. A touch I could handle. Full penetration would drive my mind from its sanctuary straight to an asylum.

It was as if Jethro knew that. Pushing me, little by little, past my comfort zone.

I moved to the next leather-jacketed man. This one was skinny but had an edge of violence. His shaved head shone as he helped himself to the food before placing his finger in the top of my pinafore and pulling me down to his level.

His tongue lashed out, tracing my cheekbone all the way to my ear.

Shuddering, I swallowed back my repulsion.

You can handle it.

The moment he’d finished, he said, “Thank you, Ms. Weaver.”

What did they want for me—permission that it was okay? That I was grateful?

Standing upright, I struggled to move. Struggled to keep going when I knew how many more licks I’d have to earn before it was over.

“Proceed, Ms. Weaver. Don’t disappoint me.” Jethro’s gravelly voice invaded my ears. Damn him. Damn all of this.

Swallowing hard, I moved to the next.

He was handsome. Quite like Jethro in a stockier, less devilish kind of way. He had dark hair with flecks of grey and a bird of prey tattooed on his forearm.

Never taking his eyes from mine, he took a few items, then hooked a strong arm around my waist and pushed up my maid’s uniform. His lips pressed a kiss on my hipbone, the wet tease of a tongue hidden by the warm pressure of his mouth.

Every inch of me revolted but I didn’t flinch.

Smirking, he let me go. “Thank you, Ms. Weaver.”

It was the smirk that gave him away.

He’s another Hawk.

The man nodded, sensing my connection to his pedigree. “I’m the second brother,” he said softly. “I doubt you know my name seeing as Jethro gets to have all the fun—but I’ll tell you—so you know who to scream for when my older brother goes too far.” He crooked his finger, hinting for me to move closer.

Despite myself, I bent. There was something about this brother. Something different.

His light-brown eyes—a Hawk family trait it seemed—crinkled at the corners as he said, “I’m Kestrel.” Pointing at the tattoo on his arm, he added, “Like the bird.”

“Leave her alone, Kes. Other brothers want a turn.” Jethro’s demand snapped from behind.

Kestrel chuckled. “Easy there, Jet. Only playing with my food.” He sat back, motioning me to continue.

How many sons did Mr. Hawk have? How many must I submit to when Jethro had had enough of me? I didn’t have the mental protection to sleep with an entire family of evilness.

My eyes didn’t linger on him and I wasn’t permitted to speak, but I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to know why I had a sense of kinship—no matter how slight.

Tense, I darted around his chair, moving to my next customer.

The next man had piercings in his eyebrow and lower lip. Blue-black hair, so similar to Vaughn’s, tore my heart out as he bent his head over my arm and dragged a pointed tongue toward my elbow.

V.

Tears threatened. V was everything to me. I couldn’t stand to think of him while this happened. I should’ve messaged him back. I was cruel to leave him in distress.

Closing my eyes, I put one foot in front of the other, moving toward the next man.

And then the next.

And the next.

Each one thanked me once they’d tasted, acting like gentlemen rather the lair of monsters they truly were.

With every lick, I froze, standing tense and hating while they dragged their saliva all over my skin.

Thankfully, the lack of hunger tripped time, merging the men and tongues into a merry-go-round of nightmares. I lost track of who licked where, hiding myself away and focusing on the weight of my platter growing lighter and lighter.

But not one person tasted my breasts or pussy.

It sent me into a state of uncomfortable awareness. They were men. Taunting a woman who they’d been given permission to taste. Why hadn’t they gone for the prized locations?

The unknowing and waiting sent my skin crawling more than their eager tongues.

The next man I served was older with a greying moustache and wispy hair. He licked my neck, nuzzling my hair before taking his fill of food.

I went to move, in a trance, to the next diner.

But the older man captured my hip and presented me with the next part of the parchment.

My trance evaporated, leaving me hungry for information. This was why I permitted this. I let myself be governed by history. The double meaning of the thought didn’t escape me. You were taken because of history. You’re staying because of history.

The diamonds of my collar bit into my neck in agreeance.

Placing the platter on the table, I removed myself from the twenty-first century and proceeded to be swept to 1672.

For actions committed by Percy Weaver and his entourage of well-to-do associates, he stands judged and wanting. His life is determined by the grace of Bennett Hawk who states the following comeuppance:

Monetary compensation

Public apology

And most of all, bodily retribution

What a bastard. He couldn’t let some petty grievance go?

He did save the entire family from hanging. Somehow he’d kept Percy Weaver and my ancestors from swinging on a rope, and in a way I had to be grateful. Grateful to a man who’d saved my bloodline but stolen my future at the same time.

If this document had never been agreed upon, I would never have been born. No one past Percy and Mary would’ve existed. It was hard to hate someone who’d granted life, but easy to hate them for stealing countless of those lives generations later.

“Keep going, Ms. Weaver,” Jethro purred.

My head snapped up.

He stood there, wrapped in his horrible silence, watching me like a hunter.

I wanted to glower. I wanted to do something idiotic and stick my tongue out at him. But there was no point making him hate me more than he already did. The moment I could charge my phone, I would google every enticing come-hithers a woman could make.

I’ll seduce him.

I’d enjoyed seeing his impeccable control snap by the stables. I loved that I was the one to do it.

I’ll make him care.

I would turn this travesty into a prophecy by weaving my Weaver magic over a Hawk.

With strength building in my heart, I grabbed my tray.

Moving forward on unsteady knees, I looked greedily at the next piece of paper. It sat coyly in the centre of the table, beckoning.

The next man to taste me was a young boy, barely out of his teens. His touch was gentle, tongue barely licking. He was my favourite from the table.

After another two licks, I hoped I deserved the next scrap of parchment, but no one gave it to me. My heart sank as I completed a full rotation, squeezing my eyes as each tongue inched closer to the places I wished were covered.

I couldn’t stop shivering when I placed the empty platter on the sideboard. Resting my palms on the hard surface, I breathed deep. Tears pressed on the back of my eyes, disgust rolled in my stomach growling with desperate hunger. This was torture on so many levels. Delivering food to well-fed men all the while they feasted on me, too.

“The main course, if you will, Nila,” Mr. Hawk muttered.

I looked over my shoulder. He sat there, running his fingers through his goatee. His golden eyes, so like Jethro’s, held no patience or tolerance but his lips tilted in mirth. He was enjoying this.

Of course he was. They all were.

Including my main tormentor.

Pushing off from the sideboard, I collected a large silver tray of chicken and asparagus. Keeping my eyes down, I deliberately kept the tray high and outstretched, giving me a shield in which to pass Jethro.

Not that it helped.

His arm shot out, stopping me. I cursed the familiarity of his touch. Screamed at the horrible way my body remembered the pleasure he’d granted by the stables. I wanted nothing from him. Especially the memory of his fingers.

I glared into his eyes. Stay silent.

It was hard.

I had so much I wanted to say. So much to yell. The side of my head still throbbed from his strike; my ego still hurt from not knowing how to jerk him off the way he desired. He made me feel like a rejected little girl.

Bowing close, he whispered in my ear, “I’m enjoying watching you be so obedient, Ms. Weaver. And your silence…” He brushed my hair away from my cheek, fingertips lingering on my neck. “…is making me hard.”

I sucked in a gasp, looking to the front of his trousers despite myself. The outline of his massive cock that terrified me—more than his hands, temper, or god-awful silence—stood firm and bulging against his jeans.

He smiled. “Keep up the good work and you might get two rewards this evening.” His eyes darkened. “Because we both know you want me to finish what I started.”

My gasp turned to a growl. I couldn’t fathom how my stomach swooped even while sickness swirled. Damn my traitorous body for finding his evil beauty attractive.

Are you sure you want to seduce him just for protection? I hated the question. I hated that I didn’t have an answer.

Jerking away from his arm, I stalked toward my starting position. Standing beside Mr. Hawk, I served him first. The moment he’d taken a few morsels, I moved to leave, but he pinched my pinafore, keeping me still.




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